Rooney, Southerland talk agriculture, water rules with Florida Farm Bureau

Nearly 75 members of the Florida Farm Bureau met with members of their congressional delegation this week to discuss agricultural issues as part of the group's annual Field to the Hill event. Among the topics brought up during the event, which ended yesterday, were the controversial numeric nurient criteria, a set of water pollution standards proposed by the EPA, and the heavily debated Farm Bill, which is currently being drafted.

Ag. Commissioner took $61K in contributions from sugar/dairy before seeking to halt ban on sugary drinks in schools

Incoming Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam recently petitioned the State Board of Education to delay considering a ban on sugary drinks in schools, claiming the focus on soda and chocolate milk does not address the broader picture of school nutrition while insisting students will be better served once the Department of Agriculture is given authority under the president's new child nutrition bill to establish standards for all school food offerings. ThinkProgress is reporting that Putnam received upwards of $61,000 in campaign contributions from sugar and dairy interests during the 2010 election cycle, including donations from Coca Cola and individuals associated with U.S. Sugar Corporation.

The spotty environmental record and tough reelection bid of Rep. Boyd

In December 2009, several high-profile Florida representatives (including Senate candidate Kendrick Meek) wrote (.pdf) to Congress urging them to consider the economic impacts of implementing a set of numeric nutrient criteria that would strictly govern the levels of waste allowed to be dumped in Florida waters. Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Tallahassee, currently locked in a difficult reelection campaign against Republican Steve Southerland, was one of the heavy-hitters to sign the letter, and has since fought hard for deregulation.

Rick Scott health care company accused of overbilling Medicare

Two weeks before Florida’s 2010 primary, new allegations of improper Medicare billing by Solantic, a health care company co-founded by Rick Scott, surfaced, in addition to charges made by former Solantic doctors that their names and licenses were used without their consent. Within hours of being pressed for answers by The Florida Independent, Solantic officials and Scott held hastily arranged press conferences to rebut the charges.

Republicans consider controversial change to primary calendar

Today, Republican Party officials representing every state and territory in the country convene in Kansas City for the Republican National Committee’s annual summer meeting. Generally, the event is a chummy and predictable affair, an opportunity for attendees to hobnob between conferences. But the upcoming four days are shaping up to be tense, as party officials find themselves divided over a proposal to reform the GOP’s presidential nomination process for the 2012 election.

Army Corps announcement could bode well for endangered Everglades species

The Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday approved a South Florida Water Management District request for authorization to use temporary forward pumps to pull water from Lake Okeechobee lower than gravity-flow will allow, and now, the Corps has agreed to reduce that permit extension to one year only, in part to allow for a thorough analysis of the impacts of the pumps on the endangered Everglades snail kite. The announcement is an important one for the environmental group Audubon of Florida, which has long fought for the snail kite habitat.

FSU students challenge school’s Koch agreement

The Charles G. Koch Foundation has come under fire for its involvement in hiring at Florida State University, and although the school has defended itself against accusations that it accepted Koch funding in exchange for allowing the group to hire certain staff members, FSU students continue to challenge the arrangement.